The recent conversation about people with support animals demonstrates the continuing bias against people with mental and emotional disabilities (“Fur flies with ‘support’ animals in the mix,” Letters, Feb. 9; “No more snakes on a plane, please,” Editorial, Feb. 7).
One letter writer wants them kept off airplanes so that her autistic son can fly without fear, even though she seems to indicate that she can arrange, through the airlines, a safe distance that allows both her son and the disabled person who travels with a support animal to fly on the same plane.
Another writer is concerned because, as a property manager, he has seen the “anguish” of residents who have “suffered” from having had “to live in close proximity to an offensive animal.”
In every case that I have encountered, a “support animal” is supposed to be a “reasonable accommodation” for a mentally or emotionally disabled person who has a psychiatrist’s or psychologist’s documented medical support for having the support animal.
“Snakes on a plane” was a snappy title for a mediocre movie, but it does not justify limiting for these disabled people the same access to housing or to publicly regulated services that the rest of us have and expect. Where there is some contingent conflict, I have found that reasonable people usually can find a reasonable solution to accommodate the disabled person.
The writer is a retired legal services lawyer.